BARF Diet for Dogs

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What is the BARF diet for dogs? BARF is an acronym for either Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. Many health-conscious veterinarians advocate this diet as a complete replacement for commercial dog food.

One of the first proponents of BARF was Dr. Ian Billinghurst author of The BARF Diet. Billinghurst believes that this diet is the ultimate way to get pets into optimum health because it simulates what dogs would eat in their natural environment.

Many owners who have dogs with problems such as allergies, skin conditions, weight issues, and anal gland problems have found that the bones and raw food diet has helped to significantly reduce these issues.

Some of the advantages to feeding a biologically appropriate raw food diet include no preservatives as found in most commercial dog foods, better taste to your dog than regular dog food, and in general, improved muscle mass and body condition for your dog.

Dogs also produce fewer stools, eat more slowly, and have fewer health problems. Many advocates of the raw food diet also claim that it is less expensive than commercially manufactured dog food.

One of the biggest disadvantages to this diet is that it takes longer to prepare.

The following guidelines are only general and not meant to be a complete description of the BARF diet.

You need to transition your dog from commercial dog food to the new bones and raw food diet. You may want to make the change gradually as dogs often develop digestive problems when switching to new diets. However, some advocates of the BARF diet recommend switching your dog to the new diet cold turkey.

When feeding your dog a raw food diet, you generally want to feed your dog twice a day. The first meal of the day usually consists of raw meat and bones such as turkey or chicken legs, thighs, wings, or necks; pork riblets; lamb chops; and the like. The second meal consists of a mush made with raw meat, fresh vegetables, and offal (the organs of the meat).

Usually you want to supplement with cottage cheese, eggs with the shells, yogurt, fruit, fish, and recreational bones (which are the harder to chew kinds of bones). This can vary. You want to avoid grains. Advocates of the biologically appropriate raw food diet agree that dogs do not have the proper digestive systems to deal with whole grains and that most food allergies are grain related. Most advocates of the raw food diet do not recommend supplements.

Commercially prepared raw food diets are available, but many advocates of BARF recommend against them. They argue that these foods have regulations different from human grade foods and often contain unnecessary supplements, are ground foods (and the basis of the BARF diet is raw, meaty bones), and are much more expensive than visiting your local butcher.

If you decide that the bones and raw food diet is something that you want to try, first talk to your veterinarian about your decision. Then, do as much research into the diet as possible. You may find this diet improves the health of your dog.

Updated: November 8, 2012 — 2:21 am

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